EXPERIENCE VS TALENT UP IN PBL CUP TITLE SERIES

MANILA, January 26, 2004  (STAR) By Joey Villar - With a new set of players and ranged against a team boasting of an almost intact roster, Welcoat is wary of Fash Liquid Laundry Detergent and may play the underdog role when the PBL Platinum Cup title showdown is played beginning Thursday at the Makati Coliseum.

"Underdog kami kasi ang mga players ko kahit magagaling kulang naman sa (championship) experience habang sila (Fash) puro mga beterano na," said Welcoat coach Leo Austria, who has won three of his six cracks at the PBL crown.

That should virtually erase the possibility of a repeat sweep by Welcoat over Fash, then the Dazz Dishwashing Liquid, last year although Austria remains hopeful of a successful title-retention bid.

"Itís a possibility," added Austria, who will be leaning on a team built around James Yap, Ervin Sotto, Jay-R Reyes, Nelbert Omolon, Willy Wilson and Herkules Tangkay.

These cagers, however, were not around when a team headed by the troika of Romel Adducul, Eddie Laure and Ronald Tubid, now in the pro-league, overwhelmed Junel Baculiís charges.

The only veterans of that champion squad were Marc Pingris, Paul Artadi, Ariel Capus and Marc Cuan.

In contrast, Fash has kept the core of its previous squad, led by Eugene Tan, June Peter Simon, Allan Salangsang, Nino Gelig, Francis Mercado, Joel Dualan and Ryan Dy. Adding muscle to the team are Ateneo standouts Rich Alvarez, Wesley Gonzales, Larry Fonacier, LA Tenorio, JC Intal and Paolo Bugia.

"Mahirap magsalita pero Game 1 will be crucial for both teams. If we can win that, then maybe we could now think of another sweep," added Austria.

Injuries to Fash cagers ó Simon, Tan, Fonacier and Dy ó could also boost Welcoatís bid for a second sweep.

Simon, for one, didnít see action in his teamís 67-86 loss to Welcoat Saturday after sustaining a swollen right leg in another 68-70 defeat, this time to Blustar Detergent, last Thursday. Tan, on the other hand, hurt his right wrist while Fonacier and Dy suffered sprained ankles also last Saturday.

"Siyempre hindi kami papayag kaya lang sa dami ng injuries namin, hindi imposibleng ma-sweep na naman kami," said Baculi, who has a total of six titles in the PBL, including four for Welcoat and two for the Lamoiyan franchise.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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